Pope Francis has told European leaders to do more to help thousands of migrants risking their lives to get to the continent.
His remarks came as Greek authorities rescued a cargo ship carrying around 700 migrants. The ship was adrift in strong winds off the Mediterranean island of Crete.
“We can’t allow the Mediterranean Sea to become a big graveyard,” said the pope.
Addressing the European Parliament for the first time, the pontiff referred to an estimated 3,200 migrants who have drowned this year trying to get to Europe.
“Europe will be able to confront the problems associated with migration only if it is capable of clearly asserting its own cultural identity and enacting proper legislation that protects the rights of European citizens and ensures the acceptance of migrants.”
Francis called on European powers to work together to protect migrants from human traffickers.
The pope made a second speech at Europe’s main human rights organisation, the Council of Europe.
He said we need to recognise migrants’ dignity as people and welcome those who need what he described as “the essentials of subsistence”.